A Look Behind The Curtain at Magic Beans

Work is always playthings for Elie and Sheri Gurock, owners of Magic Beans,

When and how did you get started in children’s retail?

We started in 2004. All of the toy stores in our area were going out of business, and I saw an opportunity to create a new concept in parent-friendly, kid-centric retail.

What was your background prior to this business?

After college, I worked as a copywriter for a branding consulting firm in Boston. My husband (and business partner) was the director of admissions at a private high school.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting up?

We knew nothing about retail at all. Literally. Never touched a cash register until the day the first store opened. So we had a lot to learn about best practices, processes and procedures.

What is one thing you would have done differently?

In the beginning, I think we made a lot of excuses for things that weren’t working well. We blamed our environment instead of holding the people in that environment accountable. We wasted a lot of money trying to change our environment when what we really needed was to change some behaviors.

What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

  1. We think like parents because we are parents.
  2. We genuinely enjoy shopping, so we have high standards for retail experiences.
  3. We believe in enriching our local communities as much as we possibly can.

What types of marketing are most effective for your business?

We believe in the power of e-mail marketing. We have a large list of subscribers to our newsletters and we repay their faith in us by trying to publish something that is consistently excellent.

How do you evaluate and choose new product lines to pick up?

Quality and durability are essential. We look for products that are innovative, that solve problems for parents, that encourage kids to see things in a new way, products that are unique and exciting. We value good design and great packaging.

Do “green” or eco-friendly concerns weigh into your business decisions, and if so, how?

We are thrilled by the increasing availability of and consumer interest in eco-friendly products. We are very proud to offer a great selection of organic and earth-friendly goods.

What is one trend you’re currently seeing with customers?

We are seeing a greater demand for simplicity - back to basics toys and gear.

How does your business make use of the Internet?

We have a full-service e-commerce website at mbeans.com, as well as a blog, spillingthebeans.net. We also are active on Twitter @sherigurock and @mbeans

What is one change/addition that’s had a positive impact for your business in the last year?

We used to do a lot of in-store events. Now we have scaled back our efforts to focus on fewer, more compelling events rather than more frequent, less interesting ones.

If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?

Run away. Just kidding. It would be to do your homework. Visit a lot of stores, know what you’re trying to build and stay focused.

About Magic Beans

Magic Beans was founded in 2004 by husband and wife team Eli and Sheri Gurock. The Gurocks conceived the idea while Sheri was pregnant with her second child. They envisioned a retail experience designed for kids and optimized for parents, a place that would balance the fresh and new with the tried and true.

What will you find at Magic Beans? We sell a handpicked selection of toys for all ages, from a wide range of manufacturers. We believe that good toys come in all shapes, sizes and materials. Our customers represent a wide spectrum of parenting philosophies, and so do our products. We love that imagination doesn’t run on batteries, but we also know that sometimes a couple of batteries can elevate a toy to a whole new level of fun. When we are evaluating toys, we look for things that inspire creative interactions - between kids and the toy, between kids and kids, between kids and adults. Or all of the above.

Do you offer parents a unique shopping experience? Tell us about it…

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